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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Ten: Three, Four, Open the Door
"Never open the door to the lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it."
Wesley came to a halt in the tunnel, breathing hard, hyper-aware of the sweet burn of strength in his muscles, the blood and sweat trickling down his face, and the slight tingle of magic in his palm where he gripped the hilt of the blessed sword. He felt energized and jittery, as though something in him had fed on the violence and was asking for more. He shivered at the thought, then dismissed it and turned to check on the Slayer beside him.
"I take it back," Faith said, staring at him. Her face was still flushed from the fighting.
"About my aim?" the voice of Jonathan asked, sounding amused.
"No, the strength and healing crack." Faith tucked her stake back into her belt loops, then lifted a hand and pushed aside the matted hair at Wesley's temple. "Look at you. No damage; just dried blood. If it wasn't for those no-pulse episodes, and the whole thing with you being a guy, I'd think you were turning into a Slayer."
Wesley looked down, pulling slightly away from her touch, and untucked his shirt-tails to wipe his sword clean. "Yes. Well. What about you? Any serious injuries?"
She sighed and held out her other arm, wincing as she did so. "Broken, I think," she said.
"Mmm. I'll need to set it. How quickly do bones usually heal for you?" He resheathed his sword and then placed a hand on either side of the break, gripping her forearm lightly. There was a slight bulge under the skin where the ends of bone had separated and shifted, and a nasty-looking bruise.
"Not quick enough," she said, hissing in pain. "Can you do anything?"
"I can't do anything about the damaged tissues," Wesley replied. "Healing and magic don't mix well. I can, however, knit the bone back together. It'll still be a little weaker than usual, but you'll be able to use it."
"Go for it," Faith replied, gritting her teeth in anticipation.
"Very well." He moved his hands just so, and the ends of bone ground audibly back into place. Then he recited the Greek phrases from memory, focusing on repairing the break. Faith didn't make a sound during the ritual, but the way she relaxed once the spell was complete spoke volumes.
"Much better," she said.
"Cool," Jonathan said. "Can you do that for me?"
Wesley jumped a little. The voice was right in his ear now, but he couldn't see Jonathan anywhere. He was reminded uncomfortably of the incident in the bar two days before, when Ethan had snuck up on him that way. "Not while you're invisible," he replied. "What did you break?"
"Cheekbone," Jonathan said, shortly. "Got punched into a wall."
There was a long pause while Wesley waited for Jonathan to recite the counterspell to his little light-bending disguise, but nothing happened. "Well? Are you going to reappear?" he said.
"Shit," Jonathan replied. "I can't remember how!"
Faith snorted. "Brilliant move, J. I guess you get to be our scout, then."
Wesley sighed. There were times when he felt his age, and this was one of them. "Is this the spell Ethan used to disguise the both of you?"
"Well, yeah, but... Oh, I get it," Jonathan said. A sudden pressure encircled Wesley's forearm, and then everything suddenly dimmed and Jonathan appeared.
Wesley went through the steps of the bone-knitting spell again, carefully prodding Jonathan's bruised face. The boy was going to have a very nasty black eye and quite possibly a headache. "Next time you get punched by a vampire," he said when he'd finished, "try blocking with an arm instead of your face. Your mirror will thank you."
Jonathan rolled his eyes. "Well, at least my face will match my wardrobe now."
Wesley detached himself from the younger man's grip, smiling a little as he stepped back out of the range of the invisibility spell. "And now that we're done with the breaking," he said, "let's proceed to the entering. We aren't very far from Wolfram and Hart."
"Lead on, invisible boy," Faith prompted, pointing off down the tunnel.
"You know, I do have a name," a disembodied voice grumbled, and then the sound of footfalls moved around them and off in the direction of the now-emptied vampire nest.
If Wesley concentrated, he could see a hazy shimmer where Jonathan was supposed to be, and he could hear the swish of denim as the boy walked and the faint thump-thump of heartbeat. It was unnerving. Was this what Angel heard all of the time? How did it compare to Faith's supernaturally enhanced senses? If the phenomenon weren't so personal, it would be fascinating to study.
"Come on, Wes." Faith tugged at his arm. "Think later, walk now."
They arrived at the area of sewer beneath the Wolfram and Hart building a few minutes later, without encountering any other beings. Wesley felt a tingle on his skin as they passed under the foundations, and frowned. It wasn't quite a warding spell; it felt more like a suggestion, nudging gently at his mind.
--nothing to see here, move along--
Undoubtedly, it was meant to keep out the innocent and the weak-minded. It wouldn't do to have bums, minions, and lost children cluttering up the area, after all. The tunnel was cleaner here, with lights recessed into the walls and brick flooring that appeared to be swept clean. There was an actual doorway set into the left side of the tunnel about six meters beyond the wards with a plaque above it marked with the firm's name.
"They must get a lot of customers from down here," Faith said with a smirk, and reached out to touch the door.
"Please do be careful," Wesley cautioned her. "We've already triggered one boundary spell, and there likely will be others. I'm not sure what precautions they put on this entrance."
"What do you mean, you're not sure?" Jonathan asked. "I thought you guys broke in here before."
"That was usually Angel," Wesley said, staring at the door's textured wood-grain surface. "And usually after dark. We have never needed the sewer entrance until now."
"And we're using it now because?" Faith wondered aloud.
"Because Spike's note referenced the basement, for one," Wesley answered. "Also, Angel's usual purpose is to intimidate the lawyers, not to snoop about. Therefore, he uses the upper floors. In this case, I'd rather have a better handle on things before I confront Lilah."
"Well, it's not so hard to check for traps." Wesley could hear the soft rasp of denim against denim, and the click of small nonmetallic things bumping into each other. Talismans in the boy's pocket, perhaps? Then Jonathan spoke again, in a commanding voice. "Ecce signum."
"Behold the sign?" Wesley repeated softly, to himself. He'd never heard that particular phrase used as a revelation spell before. He really was going to have to talk to the young man about the source of his magical training.
The door lit up, displaying a cloud of various visual effects. "Good grief," Faith commented, taking a step backward. "Talk about overkill."
The spells laid on the door displayed no less than five magical "signatures", all in the grey-to-black range, representing the mages involved in the enchantments. Most of the dozen or so spells were curses or shields of one sort or another, Wesley thought, but a few of them seemed pretty exotic, including an instant teleportation spell. Undoubtely, most intruders would find themselves somewhere unpleasant, stripped of their powers and magically sedated.
"This area must not be accessible from above through traditional means," Wesley mused aloud. "Most of the upper floors rely on technology for protection, not magic." He reached instinctively for his glasses to clean them and flushed, embarrased, as his fingers encountered only air.
"There's no way I could dismantle all these," Jonathan said, dismayed.
"Nor I," Wesley admitted.
"Good thing you don't have to, then, isn't it?" someone commented from off to their right.
The three intruders turned as one to face the new voice, and stared in surprise at the strange sight that met their eyes.
"Spike?" Jonathan asked, his voice heavy with disbelief.
"In the unliving flesh," the vampire replied, winking at them from under a familiar scarred eyebrow and peroxided hair. The rest of his ensemble was totally unlike anything Wesley had ever seen Spike wear before, and, judging from the others' reactions, they thought the same.
Gone was the traditional black-jeans-and-black-duster combination. Gone were the heavy boots and the dark shirts; Spike usually favored red, black, or some combination thereof, but both colors were now missing entirely from his torso. Instead, he was decked out in an impeccable navy pinstripe suit, complete with shiny dress shoes, leather briefcase, and a little white square of linen in the breast pocket of the jacket.
Faith recovered first, her surprised expression slipping into a dangerous grin. "Almost didn't recognize you, Spike. Nice duds. Did you move up from beers to lawyers, then?"
"And you are..." Spike started to say. Then his expression went carefully blank. "Ah, yes. You're the chit who took Buffy's body for a test drive."
Wesley suppressed a flash of irritation. Spike really wasn't his favorite person, and he really didn't want to hear about whatever experience the vampire shared with Faith. "Do we really need to review ancient history just now? I'd prefer to find out how to get into the basement undetected. If you happen to give an explanation for your presence somewhere along the way, that would be splendid."
Spike switched focus from Slayer to Watcher and smirked at him. "I can do one better; how about I answer both at one go? I've been here for hours trying to find a way in; I wasn't stupid enough to just grab hold of the bloody doorknob like some gits I know. Finally caught a lawyer sneaking in, and found out the secret of it."
"You didn't kill him, did you?" Jonathan asked.
Spike rolled his eyes. "Chip, remember? He'll wake up tomorrow in his skivvies wondering what the bloody hell hit him, but he'll live. What happened to you, anyway? Shoot yourself with that sodding invisibility ray?"
"Um," Jonathan replied, sounding embarassed. "It turns out I only remember half of the disguise spell I was using."
"Wait a minute," Faith interrupted. "Back to the lawyer thing. Does this mean you have to be wearing a suit?" She sounded disgusted. "Do they come in leather?"
Spike grinned at her, bouncing a little on his toes, clearly pleased with himself. "'Course not, Slayer. The suit's just disguise. The key's here." He pulled an ornate, oversized golden thing from his pocket and gestured at the door with it.
Wesley took it from him, weighing it in his hand with a scowl. "That seems awfully convenient. How do you know this is the right one?"
"Asked, didn't I?" Spike said, cocking an eyebrow at him. "Did the whole look-into-my-eyes bit. I'm not as good at it as Dru was, but the lawyer was quick enough to share. So was the minion with him, for that matter. That one I dusted."
"You're sure it's safe?" Jonathan asked again. "No traps or anything?"
"Unless Mr. Parks was lied to, yeah."
"Parks? As in Gavin?" Wesley brightened. The thought of Gavin, humiliated and unconscious, made Wesley's day just that little bit better. Besides, if anyone would have the key to this door, it would be a member of Wolfram and Hart's Special Projects division. "No, I'm certain he was correct."
"Then what are you waiting for?" Spike gestured at the door.
Wesley debated with himself a second longer, then decided to go ahead. If by some evil coincidence Spike had switched teams again, they were already doomed; and if he was telling the truth, this might be their best chance to get inside. "All right." He carefully fitted the key into the lock, then slowly turned it.
Silence fell in the tunnel as everyone held their breaths, waiting to see what happened next.
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.